Christianity and Middle-Earth

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Silver-clear Like Elven Bells

Having grown up in a rather Cromwellian church (as Athanasius at Ecumencial Insanity put it), I have been late in life coming to some of the aesthetic delights of Greater Christendom

There is a great deal of good in the humbler groups of “low church” Americans (and I count myself as one of them even yet and will fiercely defend them, tooth and claw, despite any theological disagreements) but as an individual I long felt the aesthetic lack in a distressingly flat, grey sort of way, but simply didn’t know what to do about it. Religious music was earnest choirs croaking out four-part disharmony or the Mormon Tabernacle rendition of The Messiah; even the exquisite beauties of traditional Christmas carols were denied me. (I did mention Cromwell, didn’t I?)

For those unfamiliar with them, I can from personal experience state that American religious bodies of this sort are highly suspicious of the other end of the theological spectrum in any case; if it’s Catholic, you’d best run screaming lest your soul be suddenly imperiled by Plan 666 From Outer Space.

Thusly, I remained largely ignorant of the astonishing singing capabilities of pre-adolescent boys (believe me, children’s choirs aren’t the same thing at all) and the nearly unbearably beautiful Catholic-tinted starlight that runs throughout Tolkien’s work until Peter Jackson introduced me to it all (for which blessings be upon his head forever).

The Sistine Chapel loveliness, purity and innocence of Elijah Wood’s Frodo and the equal loveliness, purity and innocence of young male voices raised in praise as under cathedral rafters are irredeemably mingled in my soul now; Edward Ross and In Dreams have meshed the two beyond parting.

This scrap of sorrowful enchantment was (for some unfathomable reason) banished almost as an afterthought to the uttermost end of The Fellowship of the Ring, so if you’re in the habit of turning off the video player as soon as the credits roll, you’ve been missing a very evocative window onto the soul of a small and fragile Christ-figure facing his Gethsemane.

Anyhow, what this all brings me to – for any of you as ignorant as was I - is Libera. Go here, click on the picture, then on “Music” on the panel on the left and then click onward, with Frodo enduring Mordor upon your inward eye, to listen.

Then buy.


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